The Role of SNARE Proteins in Trafficking and Function of Neurotransmitter Transporters

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Abstract

The SNARE hypothesis of vesicle fusion proposes that a series of protein-protein interactions governs the delivery of vesicles to various membrane targets such as the Golgi network and the plasma membrane. Key players in this process include members of the syntaxin family of membrane proteins. The first member identified in this family, syntaxin 1A, plays an essential role in the docking and fusion of neurotransmitter-containing vesicles to the presynaptic membrane of neurons. Syntaxin 1A and other syntaxin family members have also been shown to interact with, and directly regulate, a variety of ion channels. More recently, the family of plasma membrane neurotransmitter transporters, proteins that function in part to control transmitter levels in brain, have been shown to be direct targets of syntaxin 1A regulation. This regulation involves both the trafficking of transporters as well as the control of ion and transmitter flux through transporters. In this chapter, the functional effects of syntaxin-transporter interactions are reviewed, and how such interactions may regulate neuronal signaling are considered.